Economic Espionage and Ransomware Attacks…Costs to Businesses

Michael D. Moberly, Principal, Founder, kpstrat

Economic espionage and/or (cyber) ransomware attacks which assess-target particular-businesses and/or institutions, which hold and/or are repositories of valuable, competitive advantage (mission essential) know how and data, e.g.,

  1. proprietarily developed forms-contexts-applications of intellectual, structural, relationship, and cultural (operating) capital and trade secrets, ala intangible assets, including,
  2. issued intellectual properties (IP), e.g., patents, trademarks, copyrights.

For – to business’, these assets’ vulnerability to – the probability that a single, or array of (asymmetric) risks can emerge, materialize, and cascade…

  • internally – methodically, stealthily, overtime, in causal – rapid succession
  • externally – with blunt force, @ keystroke speed, and cascade adversely throughout an enterprise and its value chain,

…are pathologically persistent and unrelenting.

Important realities, to be under-estimated at-leaders-peril, lie in businesses which (most) are…

intangible asset (IP) intensive, dependent, and reliant insofar as competitiveness, revenue generation capability, valuation, and sustainability.

Leaders, management teams, investors, and stakeholders, etc., associated with intangible asset intensive – dependent businesses (and respective value – supply chains) are obliged (fiduciarily, and otherwise) to recognize

1. there are untold (global) cadres of technologically adept criminals and national security adversaries methodically operating 24/7/365, (some obvious – less obvious) most ready, willing) to undermine – exploit vulnerabilities and opportunities, which

2. individually – collectively, have moved the business risk vulnerability – probability – criticality gauge, i.e., risk conception-execution-materialization-cascading, etc., to at will inevitabilities.

3. un-differentiated, un-safeguarded intangible assets and risks left un-recognized and un-mitigated…will likely translate to un-necessary vulnerability – probability to and criticality of loss.

Other variables – circumstances which business leadership are obliged to consider insofar as differentiating – assessing their particular – brands-uses of intangible assets as (potentially) desirable – viable – lucrative target for economic espionage and/or ransomware attack, i.e.,

  1. stage of development – maturation
  2. where – who – how those assets are held.
  3. various ways which those assets may be rapidly transferred reasonably intact, and applied – re-applied elsewhere, i.e., conversion, and
  4. the projected ‘market – saleable value’ of the targeted assets vis-à-vis risk – cost – time required for their acquisition – transfer to ‘client’.

Accordingly, criminal groups andvariously state sponsored (economic – competitive advantage) adversaries alike, which operate globally – @ keystroke speed, may ‘create – market’ specialized services to

  • seek (access, misappropriate, infringe) IP and other forms of intangible assets.

After-all, it is not ‘rocket science’ to learn (from open sources) who holds desirable intangible assets, and wherehow those assets are held.

When businesses consider – assess risk to their intangible assets, they are also obliged to consider how same are embedded in a business’s operating culture…

  • if – when ‘the clients’ of a criminal, state sponsored, and/or ideological adversary services,
  • convey a near term need (acquisition – application) of a specific intangible asset and the relevant operational know how for its conversion to a specific initiative or transaction for their economic – competitive advantage
  • the ‘service provider’ ala adversary may not feel compelled to consider…
  1. whether the asset now being pursued is legitimately produced-held-applied by another business, or
  2. whether the assets are embedded in (target) business’s – country’s critical (national) infrastructure, i.e.,
  3. which, its theft – undermining may produce assorted disruptions and harms to – for consumers, i.e., shortages, outages, and supply chain chaos, etc.

translate as whichwhat IP and other forms of (business) proprietary intangible assets are, at particular – moments in time,

  • coveted – capable of being misappropriated – infringed and/or sold sufficiently intact,
    • i.e., etc., and sold,
    • i.e., sold, transferred, and applied as intended by beneficiaries for economic – competitive advantage competitors – adversaries (globally),
    • at a given time for immediate use-application, ala revenue generation, sector-market advantage, etc.

Again, when – if business risks as these (and others) emerge – materialize…

  • internally (stealthily, overtime) or suddenly, bluntly, @ keystroke speeds, or,
  • externallyfrom competitively predatorial and technologically less controllable regional – global business operation cultures, ideologies, and practices,
    •  as-well-as opportunistic – exploitative (criminal) enterprises, some-of-which may variously be
  • state sponsored – subsidized and otherwise governmentally tolerated by particularly noisy heads-of-state, or they may exist as
  • independent – entrepreneurial criminal operations, well-funded, prepared, and operating relatively openly,
    • wherein they create and market (globally) specialized services – products to other criminally inclined entities and/or otherwise principled clients – companies, i.e., businesses, governments, institutions, etc.,
      • which require little tutorial about how to exploit those services and data to enable the advantages they seek in the moment, i.e., time, place, circumstance, sector, immediate, near term, or strategic.
  • deliverable @ the will of and targeting – timing of various concoctions of ideological adversaries and/or economic competitors…

can produce momentum stifling – debilitating harms – costs, portions of which are increasingly likely to may un-recoupable and irreversible.

Readers of the ‘Business Intangible Asset Blog’ are invited to examine papers, books, and other blog posts available @

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